The Pitfalls of Marketing

The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes

I remember spending hours and hours playing Atari 2600 games in the early 1980’s. Well, I’m sure my mom actually limited the number of hours I played, but it was definitely one of my top choices for free time activity.  As we create and market products for Open Campus hybrid courses, we are using such marketing tools to help communicate the nature, content and promise of these digital products as names, graphics, and product mockups. As much as I am in favor of creating an aesthetic impression and impact with these marketing tools, sometimes I am afraid that these elements will not live up to the “real” product in its digital form, in classrooms, in teachers’ and students’ hands. However, below, to allay my fears, I offer the contrasts between the external packaging and the actual video of gameplay for the Atari game Pitfall. See above for the cover of the video game. See below for video of the game.

So, maybe the pixelated video display and repetitive sounds don’t quite deliver on the magic promised by the cover art. But, the game was fascinating to me. The game delivered elements that made the game enticing – elements like multiple lives, experience points, timed gameplay, a variety of challenge, and immediate feedback like sounds. And, the game has a clear winning condition: “The game ends when either all 32 treasures have been collected, all three lives have been lost, or the time has run out.”

So, here are some of the product mockups of what we are working on and I’m considering how well these communicate the promise of learning.

Gratitude Journal


  • The Gratitude Journal – can it deliver on the promise of the packaging?
    • Each student writes about what he or she is grateful for in his or her own life
    • Student create a copy of a Google document and write a daily response identifying and discussing what they are grateful for
    • Benefits: helps students practice daily writing while practicing appreciation and gratefulness, which translates into increased growth mindset


Document the Process.png

  • Document the Process (name to be finalized) – can it deliver on the promise of the packaging?
    • The package shows a 3D box that has graphics of a computer keyboard and video editing screen.
    • Students reflect on and write about a process they have experienced, using a four step debrief protocol called F.I.N.D.
    • Benefits: helps students analyze and process their own struggles and strengths


  • Tutor Recruiter -can it deliver on the promise of the packaging?
    • The mockup shows a learner’s hands holding an iPad with an image of a tutor working with a student, with a magnifying glass over the corner of that image.  There are also five stars across the bottom that indicate a rating system.
    • Students size up three tutors by watching videos of them tutoring, provide ratings for them, choose a tutor, then emulate the best tutor by creating their own tutoring video
    • Benefits: Students practice social engagement by playing the “role” of someone who is identifying a good tutor for a friend of the family



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Coordinating 21st Century Learning in Santa Ana & beyond. I practice art through photography. I raise funds for clean water with Team World Vision.

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Coordinating 21st Century Learning in Santa Ana & beyond. I practice art through photography. I raise funds for clean water with Team World Vision.

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